For some people, emergencies are an everyday part of life. This is particularly true for emergency medical responders, law enforcement, health workers and some workplace safety officials. However, most of us don’t encounter emergencies unless things have gone terribly wrong. 

When we’re not sure what to do (or what to wear) in these situations, we put ourselves at risk of getting seriously injured or ill because of the contaminants to which we’re exposed. It is critical that we are equipped with the right apparel to make sure that doesn’t happen. 

So, how do you know when you should be wearing personal protective clothing (PPE) and which clothing to put on when emergencies happen? If you believe that you will be in the proximity of any dangerous toxins or people who are seriously ill with communicable diseases, you should always err on the side of caution. You’d rather be over-protected than exposed to a dangerous substance. 

Whether you’re starting a new job or deciding which type of PPE is best for your employees, knowing how you’re vulnerable to dangerous chemicals and diseases will help you be as safe as possible. You can then use that knowledge to decide which hazardous response apparel is best for you. Let’s look at six types of emergencies that require the usage of PPE or protective clothing.

When Caring for People with Infectious Diseases

PPE is often a necessity in healthcare settings, such as hospitals, emergency departments, clinical labs and doctors’ offices. PPE protects your eyes, nose, mouth and skin from exposure to dangerous viruses and bacteria. Some of the most commonly used PPE for emergency response includes goggles, gloves, surgical masks, gowns and protective suits. PPE is especially important if you have a weakened immune system, which is often the case for those suffering from diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, lung disease or HIV.

When Responding to a Scene Where Fentanyl Was Present

Many types of workers could encounter fentanyl as part of their jobs. Police officers, emergency medical responders and special operations workers should always be prepared with the proper PPE in case they are responding to a scene where there has been a fentanyl overdose. Fentanyl can be present in liquid, powder or tablet form. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that exposure to fentanyl is most likely through inhalation, inhalation, mucous membrane contact, ingestion and needles.

When Near Drug Labs or Similar Crime Scenes

PPE serves two important purposes on crime scenes where drugs or drugs labs are present. First, it protects from exposure to the drug in the same ways mentioned in the fentanyl section above, as the protocols are often the same for any types of drug or opioid overdose. Second, it ensures that you won’t compromise the integrity of the crime scene. If you don’t wear PPE, you might be leaving your own DNA at the scene. Though it hopefully wouldn’t make you a suspect for the crime to which you’re responding, it could make an investigation more difficult. 

When Handling or Working Near Bodily Fluids

Whether you’re a home health worker or a nurse at a healthcare facility, you’ll want to be sure you are protected from infectious materials. This means wearing PPE for emergency response that shields you not just from body fluids like blood or urine, but also from any other materials or surfaces that have come in contact with body fluids. 

When Working Near Dangerous Chemicals

If you will be in a laboratory where dangerous chemicals are being used or working in an area where a chemical spill has occurred, you should be extremely cautious. These environments can be deadly, so you’ll want to be sure you are wearing as much protective equipment as possible. In addition to goggles, a disposable chemical resistant suit and gloves, consider the use of respiratory protection devices to protect you from exposure to any airborne chemicals. 

When Assisting with Emergency and Recovery Work After Natural Disasters

Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires and structural collapses can release dangerous contaminants in the air, leaving the people who assist with emergency and recovery efforts vulnerable. Workers could be exposed to dangerous contaminants via inhalation, dermal contact, ingestion or contact with mucous membranes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests wearing gas masks, gloves, overalls, boots and goggles.

Who Should be Wearing PPE?

Anyone who could be exposed to dangerous toxins, bacteria or other substances should take precautions by getting the proper safety apparel. Older adults will be more vulnerable to illness when exposed to viruses and bacteria, as will any person with a compromised immune system. 

If you know you will be in an environment that has been host to a natural disaster, plan accordingly with PPE. If you are beginning a new job in which you’ll be exposed to any contaminants, find out the protocol used by your employer to make sure you have the appropriate safety apparel. Employers are required to provide workers with the proper safety material, but it could be helpful to give your employer a heads up about your presence on site, so they can be sure they have the necessary safety apparel available. 

Remember to Cover These Body Parts

No two emergency situations are identical, so each requires its own set of considerations when deciding which PPE is best. However, if you want to be sure that you are protected as possible, make sure you are covering your…

  • Eyes

  • Mouth

  • Skin

  • Ears

  • Respiratory system

When you know that you’ll be in a situation where you could be exposed to dangerous substances, consider contacting a professional familiar with these environments to find out which types of PPE they suggest. For example, if you’re visiting the site of an emergency at work, contact your supervisor to see what equipment your employer suggests wearing.

Find the Best PPE For Your Needs

Most jobs never involve exposure to dangerous toxins or bacteria, but for workers who regularly find themselves in emergency settings, it’s vital to make sure you are equipped with the right PPE. International Enviroguard offers industry solutions for nearly every possible situation your workers might encounter. We know protective clothing, and we are happy to offer a few suggestions that are particularly popular with the companies we supply. 

Suggested Clothing to Protect Yourself in Emergencies

At International Enviroguard, we offer PPE for first responders that not only provides superior protection in emergencies, but is also comfortable for frequent use. For hazardous response situations, one very useful type of PPE is a disposable chemical resistant suit. Some of our most popular products for these situations include…


ViroGuard® 2

ChemSplash® 1

ChemSplash® 2

Our products are available through most industrial, safety, scientific and healthcare supply distributors and resellers. Feel free to contact us directly so we can match you with a distributor in your area.